It sucks to get eliminated at any point. That’s not a fun experience, but as Tom pointed out in this week’s episode, there are two potential eliminations that suck more than any others. 1) Getting eliminated immediately prior to the finale and 2) getting eliminated first. Obviously, all of the remaining chefs got over that second hump a long time ago, but with only four remaining, one of them was destined to get fall just short of the end game.

For the first time all year, the latest quickfire did not bring with it a chance at immunity. Instead, it offered a brand new Toyota Corolla, which is a damn good conciliation prize. To try and win it, the contestants were tasked with dominating a two part quickfire. In the first part, they were asked to make a one fork bite for Gail, and in the second part, they were asked to highlight a vegetable for Tom. Following round one, Shirley and Nina were chopped for having the worst forks. Following round two, Carlos was declared the win. Not surprisingly, he seemed just as excited to beat Nick as he did to win the car.

As for the elimination challenge, the chefs were asked to cook a dish symbolizing all they’ve learned during their time in New Orleans. So, Shirley made an Asian dish that used Louisiana flavors. Carlos made a tamale with fresh seafood. Nick made a very delicate seafood dish with a well-seasoned, Louisiana style broth, and Nina went with some seafood with a little bit of Caribbean flair.

On the whole, all four dishes were incredibly successful. The chefs offered up some of the best food of the season. After careful debate, Shirley was declared the winner, and she was gifted with the honor of having her dish placed on the menu at all of Emeril’s New Orleans restaurants. As a solid second place, Nina was quickly given her ticket to the finale, as well, leaving Carlos and Nick to fight it out for a second place. The judges were very happy with the conception of Nick’s dish, but it was a bit underseasoned. Carlos’ was very tasty and very well-seasoned, but the sauce, while delicious, didn’t necessarily go with his tamale.

In the end, the judges decided to send Carlos home, forcing him to one final episode of Last Chance Kitchen in which he may or may not return for the last round.

The Top Chef Power Rankings are an ordered compilation of weekly lists put together by TV Blend writers Jessica Rawden and Mack Rawden. Each week after viewing the episode, they each rank the competitors in order. Nineteen points are given for a first place vote, and this week, seventeen were given for a last place vote. Sixteen competitors have already been eliminated; therefore, those people automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here is how this week’s voting panned out, complete with analysis on how the contestants might fare moving forward.

The Remaining Chefs
#1) Shirley Chung (38): Shirley has earned this spot. Last week, it was a little wishy-washy as to whether she really should be given the edge over Nina, but thanks to another win, she’s now entering the finals as the narrow favorite to take home the crown. Maybe she’ll win. Maybe she’ll lose. Either way, she should be really proud of all she’s accomplished.

#2) Nina Compton (36): Everyone in the competition has had their eyes on Nina since the beginning. She’s pretty much always been the benchmark everyone else has compared themselves against. It would have been a travesty if she didn’t make it to the finals. Luckily, even after forgetting a major component to her dish, she still cruised to the last stop on the journey.

#3) Nicholas Elmi (34): It seems like we say it every single week; so, why not one more time? Nicholas got really, really lucky to make the finale. Yes, his dish was good. Yes, the judges liked it, but once again, he was in the bottom two facing a legitimate chance he’d be sent packing. It’s unclear how he survived so many times, but at this point, he has to be considered a heavy, heavy underdog going into the finale.

Shirley Chung (19)
Nina Compton (18)
Nicholas Elmi (17)
Shirley Chung (19)
Nina Compton (18)
Nicholas Elmi (17)

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